In the wake of the recent bushfires destroying Brisbane’s natural environment, fire protection and fire walls are more important than ever when building near bushland. But what exactly is a fire wall, why are they important and how do you know you have the right one?
In this article, we will explore all those frequently asked questions to make sure you and your family are as safe as possible in your newly built home.
What is a fire wall?
In construction, a fire wall is designed to meet building standards that will ensure your home is protected in a bushfire. These walls are constructed according to the Building Code of Australia’s requirements, and certified through a house inspector upon your construction’s completion, or prior to buying a new house near bushland.
Each state in Australia has different standards, so it’s best to check regulations with your state’s governing body or a professional where possible. It’s worth mentioning that, in comparison to other states such as Victoria and New South Wales, the bushfire resilience standards in Queensland are quite low, particularly in newer housing estates in Yarrabilba (near Ipswich).
This means that, when building a house near bushland in Brisbane, you need to be even more vigilant when it comes to the installation of fire walls and protecting your property in a more rural suburb.
How do I know if my wall is fire-rated?
After construction, a fire wall is fitted with a sign advising of its fire-resistant rating, sealed with fire-rated caulking to keep the fire at bay. Usually there is a minimum of 5/8” thickness in the dry wall. Generally, they will be fitted in areas like the garage or other exit points.
Gyprock has a series of plaster that has been certified as fire resistant and suitable for constructing fire resistant walls in Brisbane construction. Their Fyrecheck products are identifiable by their pink face paper.
However, the best way to know for certain that your house meets the BCA’s requirements is to organise an inspection with a professional.
What is a 60/60/60 fire wall?
60/60/60 is a rating given to fire walls according to their ability to keep the fire at bay for a certain period of time. Usually, you would use a 1-hr fire rated wall or a 2-hr fire rated wall when building near bushland in Brisbane.
Essentially, using a 1 hour fire wall within the construction of your home means that, if you were to come under a bushfire threat, you would have 60 minutes to evacuate and ensure your family’s safety, hence the term “60/60/60”.
This is because it would:
- Maintain stability as certified by the code
- Resist flames and gases
- Maintain the temperature of the home whilst keeping the fire at bay long enough for you to escape (and call the authorities).
In comparison, a 1.5-hour fire wall would maintain the aforementioned standards for 90 minutes, therefore giving you 90 minutes to evacuate yourself and your family from the premises (and so on).
Determining which fire wall is best suited to your construction requirements is best left to the experts. This is because the location of the wall plays a big part in the type of fire wall you will need; an external fire wall requires different provisions to an interior one.
You should consult with a professional building inspector during the construction process, or when first purchasing your new home, to ensure your property meets the maximum fire safety standards for you and your family.